Up until about a month ago, Waukesha native Brad Beyer was riding a wave of success as a co-star on CBS’ “Jericho.” Then when the network announced its fall line up, it also canceled the show -- citing low ratings for the series that frequently went head-to-head against juggernauts like “American Idol,” which is a tall order for any rookie series.
Just a few weeks ago, OnMilwaukee.com ran a “Milwaukee Talks” interview with Beyer. Since then, he’s seen his show canceled, and through a surprising fan-driven campaign, watched “Jericho” rise again from the dead. This week, CBS announced that it will renew the post-apocalyptic serial drama for at least seven more episodes -- and hopefully more.
Beyer, who’s finishing a Hallmark movie with Dick Van Dyke called “Murder 101,” begins shooting “Jericho” again at the end of July, but he says CBS could put it back in its line up at any time.
It’s really an amazing Cinderella story for the show, with irate fans barraging CBS headquarters with thousands of pounds of nuts (playing off a line uttered in the season, and apparent, series finale).
And against all odds, their plan worked.
We caught up with Beyer, who will once again play farmer Stanley Richmond, shortly after CBS made it official.
OMC: When did you hear that you were coming back?
Beyer: The news broke on Monday, and before that, we started hearing that they were talking about doing something. At first we heard they wanted to do a two-hour movie, but the fans said no, they wanted show back. This kid of stuff never happens -- but (the fans’ lobbying was) pretty effective.
OMC: This time around, do you think the show’s writers will focus on moving the plot along more quickly?
BB: The second half started to do that already. The biggest problem with our show is that so many people were watching it on the Internet or Tivo (which doesn’t count toward Neilson ratings), so I think the fans are now aware to watch it when it’s on.
OMC: Ironic that the Internet, in this case, hurt, but then ultimately saved the show. That online nut campaign seemed like a long shot, at best. Have you talked to any of your co-stars about coming back?
BB: I’ve been in touch with just about everybody. It was a really sad week when we got cancelled, we didn’t expect it. But getting brought back, it’s been really sweet.
OMC: Has the experience been an emotional rollercoaster?
BB: Absolutely. When we finished the show we thought we’d be back for a second season. We’re really excited about making the best seven episodes possible.
OMC: For a veteran actor, I’m sure it’s tough to lose a job. But what about for some of the younger staff who is just getting their feet wet in the business?
BB: The goal is always to keep working. When a job that you’re passionate about ends, that you’ve put energy into, it’s a big deal. But it’s part of the business. You gotta always be looking to the next thing.
OMC: It must be a little humbling that so many people stood up for your show.
BB: I can’t say enough about the fans of the show. They showed their support. They were so diligent, so persistent and formed these groups. Now, we've got to figure out a game plan to get people to watch next season.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.